Freddie’s Christmas Wishlist

F prezzies 1PicMonkey Collage 2PicMonkey Collage 3

 

Apologies in advance, but I’m afraid I’ve become one of those irritating people who start buying Christmas presents in August. It’s not that I’m obsessing over the festive season so soon (as much as I love it, I try not to peak too early), but because over the last few years I’ve realised that this is the best way to spread the cost of Crimbo. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of November, then trying to find the money for presents. Okay, so I know you don’t have to spend a lot, but we like to treat ours at this time of year since we don’t tend to buy them many toys the rest of the year (birthdays excepted), and we have several nieces and god-children we also like to spoil. We always have a big toy clear out before Christmas and birthdays, with the general rule being ’1 in, 1 out’! I either Ebay toys, or give them to friends or good causes.

I love buying things for both of them, but I think it’s important to teach them how lucky they are compared to many children, hence the donating old toys. Now F in particular is a bit older, this is something he can start getting involved in.

I’d started compiling a little list for both Freddie and Sasha a while ago, and the above are a some of things I have in mind for F, or have bought for him already. I am not buying him too much in case he suddenly might request something from Father Christmas at the last minute (he has only asked for one thing so far, some heinous flashing light trainers!). I try and think of things that will last him throughout the year, as since he has a February birthday, he tends to get a lot of things in one go. He has oodles of cars and trains, and whilst he may have a couple of these in his stocking, we’ve been trying to think outside the box a little, and go for items we think he will love but might not automatically think of.

1 | Mini guitar

2 | Honeybake Baker’s Set

3 | Fisher Price KiddiZoom Camera

4 | Pintoy Wooden Drum

5 | Marble Run

6 | Fishing Game

7 | Pop Up Pirate Game

8 | Learning Resources Design & Drill

9 | Scooter Bell

10 | Bosch Work Bench

 

What are you getting your little ones for Christmas?!

Create! How to make a Christmas Rag-rug Wreath

Finished Rag Rug Wreath

Good morning! I feel this is safe post to put out there now we are steadily creeping towards Christmas (don’t pretend you don’t love it) :-) Last week I mentioned that I spent a glorious Sunday morning at the ‘Tea and Crafting’ studio in Camden, alongside the lovely Elsie from ‘Ragged Life’, who gave me an introduction to ‘rag rugging’, and got me started on a lovely Christmas wreath that I am in the process of making. Well, Elsie has been very kind, and has agreed to show how you actually go about making one of these bad boys. They would look amazing on your front door this Christmas!

Before you begin, please check out Elsie’s equipment check list, so you know you’ve got what you need:

Step 1: Draw a ring on the hessian: 

Take a piece of hessian and, using a thick clearly visible pen, draw a ring the size and shape of the wreath you would like to create. For a large wreath Elsie recommends an outside ring diameter of 33cm and an inside ring diameter of 19cm, and for a small wreath we like to use a 28cm outside ring diameter and 16cm inside diameter. However you can make the wreath as big or as small as you’d like!

Drawing on hessian

Step 2: Hem the hessian:

Using a sewing machine or overlocker, hem the hessian about 3cm from the outside circle of the wreath and approximately 3cm within the inside circle of the wreath. Then cut around the outside of the hem to remove the excess hessian (being careful not to cut any stitches).

Hem rag rug wreath

When hemming hessian, you will need to use a stitch that holds both the horizontal and vertical strands or your base will unravel (and nobody wants that!):

Hessian Hem Stitch

Step 3: Decide on a design:

This is the nice part – choosing what design you fancy for your wreath. If you’re looking to make a traditional style wreath then Elsie recommends drawing five circles in the middle of the ring, equidistant from each other. These will become five stunning flowers:

Choose a design

Step 4: It’s Time to Rag Rug! 

At this stage you may want to remind yourself how to do shaggy rag rug as there’ll be a fair bit to do. You can see Elsie’s easy to follow video here:

And now it’s time to get started! If you’re doing a traditional style christmas wreath then she finds the best way to get started is to begin in the centre of the “flowers” and work your way out. Here Elsie’s used gold toffee wrappers as the centre of her “flowers”:

Starting a rag rug wreath

Keep rag rugging between the blue lines and this is what the front will look like:

Work in progress rag rug wreath

And the back…

Back Rag Rug Wreath

Step 5: Create a Base for your Wreath:

Find a piece of sturdy cardboard or foam board and cut out a ring the same size as your initial wreath ring:

Rag Rug Wreath Base

Step 6: Attach your wreath to the backing: 

Position your wreath with the underneath facing upwards. Align your cardboard / foam ring with the rag rugged part of the wreath.

Rag Rug Wreath Construction

Next, fold the hessian border back over the cardboard ring and staple gun down to secure. You will have to concertina it slightly.

Staple Gun Wreath

Continue around the outside of the ring until it looks like below:

Back of Christmas Wreath

Step 7: Secure the inside of the wreath: 

Once the outside of the wreath is firmly connected to the backing board then cut a circle inside the inner hemming of the ring so it looks like below:

Assembling Rag Rug Wreath

Next make slight cuts in the hessian, making sure not to cut too close to the rag rugged part.

Cutting Hessian

And now use the staple gun to secure the inside hem to the cardboard base.

Stapling hessian

Eventually the back will look like this:

Back of Rag Rug Wreath

And hooray, the front will look this!

Rag Rug Wreath Front

Step 8: Add a Loop for Easy Hanging: 

A minor point but it’s really handy to add a loop to your wreath to make it easier to hang. Elsie does this by plaiting hessian strands and stapling the plait in a loop shape to the back of the wreath like below. You can use twine, ribbon or something more decorative as well!

Rag Rug Wreath Loop

Step 9: Tidy Up the Back of the Wreath (optional)

If you’re planning to give the wreath as a present or you just like things to be neat then at this stage it may be a good idea to tidy up the back of your wreath. To do this Elsie cuts a ring of felt to the size of the wreath (you can do this by drawing around it) and glue the felt to the back of the wreath with a glue gun. Below is what this looks like:

Rag Rug Wreath Neat

And to end, here’s what your final wreath should look like – Ta-da!

Finished Rag Rug Wreath

I am praying that mine will end up looking as good as Elsie’s when I’ve finished- I’m sure I’ll bore the tits off you posting updates on Instagram et al though, so you’ll be able to see for yourselves! ;-)

Hopefully some of you will be inspired to give this ace craft a go, it really is so relaxing, and very sociable if you get a little rag-rugging crew of you together!

If you want to know more about rag-rugging, check out the fab Ragged Life website http://www.ragged-life.com

Linking up with Let’s Talk Mommy and Share With Me!

A Recipe! Toffee Apple Cake

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Okay, so I’m slightly behind with making (and posting) this cake recipe, as I always think of toffee apples as being bonfire night fare, but I had to share as this cake is SO delicious! There are still some fireworks going off here and there where we live, so I think that means this recipe is still in keeping ;-)

You will need:

  • 3 small eating apples, peeled and cut into slices
  • 4 tbsp soft, dark brown sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 150ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. Lightly grease the sides and bases of 2 x 8 inch sandwich tins.
  2. Toss the thinly slices apples in brown sugar until well coated. Arrange them over the base of 1 of the tins, and set to one side.
  3. Cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl and gradually beat them into the creamed mixture.
  5. Sift the flour into the mixture, and fold in well.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and smooth down, leveling the surface.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, before removing the tin that DOESN’T have the sliced apples in.
  8. Bake the tin containing apples for a further 5 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the cake cleanly.
  9. Leave in the tins to cool.
  10. In the meantime, whip the cream with 1 tbsp of the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Sandwich the cake together with the cream.
  11. Mix the remaining icing sugar and the ground cinnamon together, sprinkle over the cake, and serve!

Linking up with Honest Mum and Tasty Tuesdays!

A new chapter, and a realisation

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It’s been 3 weeks now since I started my new role, as a social media manager for a telecoms company. It really is the perfect job, as being 2 days a week working from home/the cafe (def maxing out that Starbucks loyalty card), means it fits in around the children which is what I really wanted when it came to returning to the working world. Freddie already goes to preschool 2 1/2 days per week, and my Mum has been an angel and has agreed to look after S for 2 full days, until she too starts preschool in the New Year. I can take them there, and be the one picking them up. It also enables me to fit in some blog work that I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up as time has gone on, rather than trying to squeeze this in during the evenings.

Already the change in our home life, and also to how I feel has been remarkable. Let me explain… Having been largely a stay-at-home mum for nearly 4 years, bar starting up my vintage homeware business earlier this year, I had got very much into my own routine, and used to being with the smalls 24/7. I was convinced that I was doing the very best for my children by being with them, and hopefully in many ways I have. We go out and about, read together, do crafts/cooking/playing, and for the most part, I have really enjoyed it, and felt privileged to have had so much time with them during their formative years. But have I always genuinely enjoyed it? Or have I been running on some sort of ‘perfect parent’ autopilot for some of the time, there, but not always present or ‘switched on’?

The last year or so, deep down, I’ve known I’ve wanted more, and this in turn has not always made me the best parent. I have often felt distracted, as I’ve veered back and forth between thinking of going back to work (on a bad day), and wanting to be there still for them at all times (on a good day). I have been snappy on occasion, unfairly resenting the slog of looking after 2 toddlers, when I should have been feeling grateful for having them both. Or my mind has been elsewhere (or buried in my laptop), thinking of roles I would like to do, blog posts and articles I would like to write. The flame that has been lit inside me, the urge to write, and create (sorry if that sounds MASSIVELY pretentious!), manifested itself in spending most evenings doing just that, largely at the expense of ‘downtime’ and spending time with Adam. I totally adore my blog, it’s my third baby and has given me a new lease of life, and I want to make the most of the my new-found writing bug and the paid opportunities that have started to come my way. In turn, I have felt stressed trying to juggle everything, frustrated, and that’s when the guilt comes, when I feel guilty for not enjoying my children more. There has been no clear line between work, family, and play, and this is what I’d been badly missing.

Since I’ve had these 2 days for working, using my brain in a different way, enjoying working for a company again, plus having time to write for myself, I truly feel like a NEW WOMAN. The days when it’s just the children and me are SO much better. Bar a few usual household chores (and I feel it’s still important for them to play by themselves!), my time is focused purely on them, and I’m sure they are noticing the change in me too. I’m no longer stressed out trying to do something else, or distracted, and I’ve spent more time having fun with them. I’m more relaxed, and we’ve just been talking or hanging out more. In turn their behaviour is better, less whinging at me to do stuff, and they seem so happy to have a more fun Mummy around. Adam and I have our evenings back, and have enjoyed our time together more (and I now have much more to talk about!), plus I actually have some ‘free time’ now. It’s heaven. I really, really wish I’d done it sooner, but you do what you think is best for your family at the time, right?

I always thought being a stay-at-home mum was the best option for small children, if you are able to do it, but I now know that it doesn’t always equal a better parent at all, no sirree! How naive was I? I now get why so many Mums (and Dads) actively choose to go to work, and are all the better for it. I know I certainly am, and I can testify that being at home 24/7 really is the hardest job in the world. Parents who do it for years are superheroes as far as I’m concerned!

I am starting to feel so much more balanced already, and I feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to have the best of both worlds, as not everyone can, even if they want to.

So here’s to a fresh start and a new chapter! Oh, and doing what’s right for YOU, not what you feel you SHOULD be doing- there’s a place in the world as a parent for all of us, it might just take a little while to find your happy place :-)

photo- me and F when he was a smaller F!

8 Hours, 8 photos

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1// Dark light, gloomy day- perfect excuse for laid back Saturday

2// The BEST breakfast, my favourite type of egg

3// Was going to go for a run. Got joined by small daughter in buggy. Turned into walk/run. Do you know how hard it is to run pushing a buggy when you have a 2 year old who wants to talk to you all the time?! Not recommended!

4// Baby girl is not 100%. Bad cough and sudden temp knocking the sails out of her. Calpol a GODSEND, Fell asleep on Ad for ages.

5// I realised lately that, despite having a dishwasher, we spend so much time washing up because we cook so much. Annoying, but at the same time, wouldn’t have it any other way!

6// My little man, watching telly after spending ages constructing the mother of all train tracks.

7// Some tiger-action, after S perked up. I told you, Calpol is a wonderful thing!

8// Love a good cloud at sunset.

Hello! Welcome to 8 photos, 8 hours. Today is the start of a mini series of blog posts for me, aimed at progressing my photography skills, whilst capturing the very ordinary moments of our day-to-day lives. Above is a very chilled out Saturday that I’ve snapped, especially chilled as our littlest baby is a bit poorly. I guess the aim of these posts is to try and find an interesting way of photographing our day-to-day lives every now and again, and push myself to find different ways of doing so. I hope to improve my photography skills and creativity in the process. If anyone wants to have a go and join me then they’re more than welcome!

I realised when taking these photos, that when we’re mostly at home, food plays such a big part in our family life- I could have easily taken more today that involve cooking and eating. I feel that there will may more food snaps to come! #sorrynotsorry

We stayed close to home yesterday, which is often nice as we have such hectic weeks. Since I’ve had two full days to work from home for the last couple of weeks, my weekends already feel less pressured, and today there was no rush to catch up on any work or do ANYTHING, just a sense of peace and calm. It was such a great feeling. Long may it continue!

How was your Saturday?

Teaming up with Katie and her Ordinary Moments!

The Crafty Insider: Ragged Life

CushionsRagged-Life-14ART Basket Pink stripey Rug Rag Rug Toolkit Rag Rug Wreaths Stool Wreath

The other day I wrote about my trip to ‘Tea and Crafting’ in Camden, and the fab ‘Rag-Rugging’ session we all had with Elsie Jackson, from ‘Ragged Life’. Well I was so smitten with the craft, that I asked Elsie if she had any other examples of her work to show me. If you are into your crafts (or even if you’re not), I think we can all confirm and appreciate that these are pretty WOW!

Elsie and her business partner Kate make modern and sustainable homeware from rags that may otherwise go to landfill. They are reinventing this old (and somewhat forgotten) technique to give it a new lease of life, with striking and playful designs inspired by the things and people around them.

Who knew so much could be done with your old clothes?!

www.ragged-life.com